As well as being a legendary guitarist, Brian May is an evangelist for stereoscopic photography. He’s publishing a new book and holding an exhibition of pictures that capture the world in incredible and immersive detail.
How Brian May’s interest in stereoscopic photography developed
It was when I was eating my Weetabix. In the old days you used to get a toy in a cereal packet and for a long time in Weetabix you would get a little card with two pictures that looked the same. I thought, what’s all this about? You had to send away one and sixpence and a packet top to get a viewer.
I’ll never forget… the first one I had was a couple of hippos in the water with their mouths open. It was OK as two flat pictures, but when I got the viewer in the post I was truly gobsmacked. Suddenly I was looking into the mouth of this creature, and you could almost smell its breath. It was so real. I remember thinking, why don’t people do this all the time?
A stereoscopic picture is 100 times more evocative than a flat picture. When you look with your stereo viewer it’s as if you’re seeing through the eyes of the person who took the picture. You are in that situation. You’re surrounded by what they were surrounded by.
It’s a kind of magic
We live in a stereoscopic universe. We’re just not aware of it. You look around and see everything solid in an amazing picture which your brain has generated. And it’s produced from these two slightly different images, which your eyes are capturing every second. We take still pictures to capture what’s around us but it’s a very poor capture. If you take a stereoscopic picture, it’s something which you can walk into at any time in the future and experience echoes of what you felt at that moment. Very strong echoes.
You can call it a trick but actually what you’re doing is using your full senses. Your eyes are doing what they should do. They have two slightly different pictures to focus on and can build that picture in your mind just as they do in everyday life.